When I started down the road to recovery, no one ever told me that looking back would actually be the hardest part.
It’s almost too much to look back and see all the damage you’ve done trying to just survive your mental illness. It’s enough to make your recovery stop in its tracks.
You get to this point where you’re stable enough to look back at all the chaos your behavior has caused and acutely understand just how you’ve hurt people. It’s especially hard when you realize the bridges are so burned you can’t get back to fix the wrong.
You just have to live with it.
You’re also at a point where you’re making new, healthy friends and you’re terrified. You worry constantly. If they find out all the bad shit you’ve done, they won’t be your friend any more.
Would they still like you today if they’d known you yesterday?
Reconciling Who You Were Before and After Recovery
For me it’s hard to reconcile this new healthy person with the mess I was before recovery. How can I write this blog about positive mental health and acceptance? Not when I’ve been unkind, abusive, and toxic in the past.
Doesn’t my past kind of discredit what I’m saying to some degree?
I’m sure there are some old friends out there who think so.
And I guess they’d be right. At some point in my life, I really sucked at humaning. And it hurt anyone who was even remotely close to me.
I wouldn’t trust me either.
The “What-If Trap” on the Road to Recovery
As I walk down the road to recovery, I fall into that “The What if Trap” a lot.
Like what if I had been honest with my friends? Or more importantly with myself?
How different would life have been if I’d been healthy? Would I be lightyears ahead in my career instead of having to take a huge step back like I am now?
Would I have hurt my friends as badly if I had just been honest and open? Could I have known love sooner if I was able to set boundaries instead of insecurities?
Tough Questions on the Road to Recovery
How can this mentally healthy person also be the hot mess who blazed through friendships and jobs? Can I be the same girl who lied constantly out of fear and a yearning to be accepted?
Do I deserve good things when I’ve done so many bad things? Shouldn’t I be punished for the rest of my life?
The answer is yes. Absolutely yes. We all deserve peace and happiness, no matter what our past is. We may have to make more amends than others but that’s okay. It builds character.
Instead of demonizing myself, I’m forgiving myself. I’m walking into a new future filled with intention and accountability. It’s taken so much to get here but it was all worth it.
Now when I look back on the road to recovery, I soften my gaze. I know the person I used to be was just trying to survive. I give her my love instead of my judgement. She’s going to need it to get through.
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